MWC Baseball Standing Even More in Doubt
Fresno State wins two of three, New Mexico loses two of three, and Nevada takes two of three. That puts all three teams within a game or so of one another at the top. The Bulldogs (not to be confused with the Wolf Pack and the Lobos) are on top but how long will that last? Fresno State is done with the MWC portion of their season so all they can do is sit, watch, and hope. Both New Mexico and Nevada are 1.5 games behind and tied in the lost column so each must sweep to tie for first. But, then again, so what. The regular season means next to nothing as only the tournament winner will get a bid. Right? I mean, right? Next weekend could and should decide all that as the weekend winds up the season. So what happened?
Fresno State (21-8) at UNLV (12-14)
The Bulldogs went to Vegas and pretty much took care of business. A sweep would have given them the regular season title outright but the Rebels salvaged a win in the final game. Game one was a strong one for Ricky Tyler Thomas (8-4) as he allowed no runs and struck out 7 in 7 innings of work in a 9-1 victory. I'm not looking at stats as I type this but it looks like Thomas will be the regular season strike out king of the MWC. The game was close until the mutts put a five spot on the board in the top of the fifth to make the score 6-0. That was pretty much it. Big guns were Scott Silva (3 for 4), Jake Stone (2 for 5 with 4 RBIs and a home run), and Austin Guibor (3-5). Game two was another smack down as the Dawgs won 7-2. They were down 1-0 until the top of the seventh when the Bulldogs put up seven runs in the last three innings to salt this one away. The game was a pitcher's duel for six innings between the Rebels' Kenny Oakley (4-7) and the Dogs' Jimmy Lambert (10-0) as it was 1-0 as I said above. Then all heck broke loose. Kevin Viers provided most of the offense with a home run and 3 RBIs. Lambert has pretty much sewn up Pitcher of the Year for the Mountain West and is in the running for the same award on a national level. Don't count on that one as voters in the east have a strong pull for the SEC and other big boy conferences. What a feather that would be for the Mountain West. I don't follow the big boys so I don't know who the competition is. Game three was the big disappointment for the mutts as they lost the possible conference clincher 8-5. Five runs in the fourth inning and three in the fifth provided the winning margin for the Rebels. Payton Squier went 3 for 4 with 2 RBIs as the big stick. Austin Guibor had another good game as he went 3 for 5 in a losing cause. Dean Kremer (4-4) got the win as he went five workman-like innings. Now the Dogs wait.
Nevada (18-9) at New Mexico (18-9)
This was probably the toughest draw for any of the contending teams as these two are fighting for the top spot along with Fresno State. Nevada made a strong statement by taking two of the three games at the Lobos' home park. Road games are always tough in college ball. The Lobos took game one 5-4 with the game winner scoring in the seventh inning after being tied 4-4. It was pretty close in all aspects as both teams had 11 hits and zero errors. Justin Bridgman and Miles Mastrobuoni had three hits for Nevada and Jack Zoellner had three for New Mexico. The winning run scored when the bases were loaded with two outs and Reece Weber was hit by a pitch to force in a run. Tough way to lose. Nevada won the second game 17-11 which is not an atypical score in New Mexico. None of the pitchers hung around long as they all took their lumps to some degree. Hey, a total of 30 hits. What did you expect? Nevada scored 9 runs in the last two innings to pull this victory from the defeat column. Justin Bridgman went 2 for 4 with 3 RBIs, Miles Mastrobuoni had 3 RBIs, Trenton Brooks had a homerun as did Bryce Greager and Justin Hazard, and Cole Krzmarzick had 4 RBIs for Nevada. Jared Holley had 2 hits and 3 RBIs and Carl Stajduhar had a homerun and he's got a lot of ‘em. The Lobos just couldn't get much pitching from their starter Carson Schneider as he was knocked around pretty good and lasted a short 3 2/3 innings. The final score was 13-9 in Nevada's favor which allowed them to tie the Lobos in the standings and allow Fresno State to claim the top spot where they will remain unless tied by one of these two teams. If both of these teams do anything other than sweep their next series, then Fresno State wins the regular season outright. It's sweep or nothing. Anyway, the Wolf Pack got plenty of offense as they had 18 hits with Justin Bridgman, Miles Mastrobuoni, and Bryce Greager all getting three. Greager had 4 RBIs to go along with a home run. New Mexico got their production from Chris DeVito and Dalton Bowers who both had home runs and Bowers also had 3 RBIs to pace the Lobos. I would think this loss was especially painful to the Lobos as they got outhammered in their own park where they usually dish it out.
Air Force (11-16) at San Diego State (9-18)
A bit of a weird situation in San Diego. Five games were played with three being scheduled and the other two being games either suspended or rescheduled from Colorado Springs to be later played later in the season. In other words, this past weekend. Air Force won the suspended game 11-7 (as the home team) with Shaun Mize providing the big blow with a home run and 4 RBIs. Nic Ready also was 3 for 5 with 3 RBI's to help the cause. Pitching certainly wasn't the story in this one so I won't go there. Now stay with me on this. The next game was a home game for the Aztecs which they won 4-2. No outstanding hitting stars but the pitching star was Dominic Purpura (3-2) who pitched a complete game striking out 6 while taming a pretty potent lineup. Complete games are so rare these days, at any level, they are worth mentioning. The next game was a home game for Air Force. The Falcons won this one by 5-2. The Aztecs only had four hits which seldom produces a win. This game was a seven inning game (by design) and the winning pitcher was Griffin Jax (8-2) who went the distance giving up no earned runs. The second game of the DH had the Aztecs as the home team and they took advantage winning 8-6 by scoring two runs in the bottom of the eighth breaking up a 6-6 tie. Now, what did I say a sentence or two ago? It's hard to win on four hits? Well, the Aztecs did it. The Falcons had three errors which probably helped but the Aztecs only scored four earned runs. Geez, what happened here? Could it have been the 12 walks along with the three errors? That plus timely hits will work every time. Ugly. Nothing makes coaches go bald like walks and errors. I'm surprised there aren't more dead pitchers. Those cases would be thrown out of court due to self-defense. Just kidding folks. Air Force's Tyler Jones had his 17th home run. The kid's for real. Shaun Mize had three hits for the losers. San Diego State finishes off a productive weekend by taking the last game 11-5 behind Alan Trejo's three hits, Tyler Adkison's 3 RBIs, and Spencer Thornton's three RBIs and a home run. The Aztecs scored in all innings except two so they had their hitting shoes on to the tune of 14 hits.
San Jose State at Long Beach State
The pain just doesn't quit for San Jose State. They go to Long Beach and play a tough club competitively for all three games and lose them all. The Friday game had the Spartans go up 2-0 in the top of the first and that was their last lead of the day as the Dirtbags scored three in their half and won 6-2. A minor highlight was Matt Brown going five innings of superb relief for the boys in blue as he gave up no runs and struck out five. Game two was another well pitched game by both hurlers which saw the Spartans get a single single as Long Beach won 2-0 behind Darren McCaughan. Josh Nashed (0-5) also pitched well enough to win but his five innings of three hit ball and an unearned run was too much. Talk about star struck; they get good pitching but the engine still doesn't start. The Spartans lose the Sunday game 6-2 and finally score a run in the third inning as they hadn't scored since the first inning of the first game. Josh Nashed went 2 for 3 with a home run (his first) for the only highlight for the Spartans. Next weekend it's the Aztecs and they can't catch them to pull themselves out of the cellar. I've heard the coaches are giving a bunch of the players a summer off to get well and I can't say I disagree. Should be quite a list.